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What is the actual broadband speed you’re likely to receive?

actual broadband speed
Speed of light? In most cases, not quite...

From May 2018, broadband providers must be more honest about their advertised speeds. Instead of advertising speeds that only 10% of their customers could ever hope to achieve, adverts must now be based on what is available to at least half of customers at peak times.

What are those actual speeds likely to be? Well, we already have a very good idea, because one of the few worthwhile things that telecoms regulator Ofcom does is measure broadband speeds across Britain, using equipment provided by the smart folk at SamKnows.

So here’s what you can actually expect:

Advertised speed Maximum measured speed Peak time measured speed
ADSL (up to 24Mbits/sec) 10.2 9.8
Cable (up to 50Mbits/sec) 52.9 41.8
Cable (up to 100Mbits/sec) 103.2 79.3
Cable (up to 200Mbits/sec) 203.2 149.5
Fibre (up to 38Mbits/sec) 33.8 32.7
Fibre (up to 52Mbits/sec) 48.7 47.3
Fibre (up to 76Mbits/sec) 61.5 59.6

There are a few points to note here:

  • Cable basically means Virgin Media
  • Performance between ADSL and fibre broadband providers may vary significantly
  • Your individual line performance will largely depend on how far you are from your local telephone exchange (ADSL) or fibre cabinet (fibre)
  • These figures are the latest available at the time of writing, but were recorded in November 2016, so things may have improved since – but it’s unlikely to have improved by much

I expect the net result of these new advertising rules is that we’re going to see an awful lot less of actual figures used in broadband advertising, and a huge increase in the use of nebulous terms such as ‘superfast’, ‘ultrafast’ and ‘addyourownsuperlativefast’. Is that going to make things clearer for consumers? I very much doubt it.

Main pic credit: allen/Flickr

Now read this: is deliberately using up all of your broadband allowance ‘being a dick’?

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day.

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